Responsive Design and Google's Mobile-Friendly Update | Schweb Design, LLC

Responsive Design and Google's Mobile-Friendly Update

Getting your website found in the mobile age

At Schweb, one of our biggest commitments to our clients has always been creating websites with responsive design in mind. But Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update, which went into effect on April 21, makes the responsive approach more critical than ever.

What Is Responsive Design?

Responsive design isn’t anything new, and it’s not all that complicated, either. It aims to provide an excellent browsing experience to users no matter what device they view a website on, whether that’s a traditional desktop, smartphone, tablet, smart TV, gaming console—you get the picture.

In contrast to mobile design, which often means creating an entirely new website or subdomain, responsive design is fluid, which means a number of things.

First, content created for one version of the site can be seen and used by everyone, no matter what they’re viewing it on. If you vacation to Disney with the family, take a bunch of high-quality photos with your fancy (and maybe too expensive) smartphone, and upload them to your blog, users will have a seamless experience sorting through them no matter what device they use.

Second, it’s great for search engine optimization. Search engines penalize websites for things like redundant content and links. Eliminating the need for what is essentially a copy of your main website means a boost in search engine rankings.

Third, responsive designs tend to load faster, especially on mobile devices. After all, who wants to stand in line at Starbucks waiting for your website to load on their iPhone if they can just go to another, faster website? Plus, Google actually penalizes websites that don’t load in around 1 second.

What Does Responsive Design Have to Do with Google Search Rankings?

But all that pales in comparison to the biggest, newest, and (to some website owners) scariest reason to stick to a responsive design. Google now has strict standards for what it considers a mobile-friendly website, and if you don’t make the cut, your organic traffic will likely take a hit. A big hit.

Google announced the mobile-friendly algorithm update in late February, and the news has been flying around tech news outlets everywhere (heck, NPR even covered it).

Techcrunch aptly summarized Google’s criteria down to this:

“…[I]n order for a site to be considered mobile-friendly, its text has to be readable without tapping and zooming, its tap targets need to be spaced out appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling. In other words, the site simply needs to be easily usable from a mobile device.”

While the update only affects searches from mobile devices, mobile devices also account for an incredible amount of traffic. Some 80% of internet users own a smartphone, according to a recent study.

What Does This Mean for My Website?

The implications are pretty straightforward. More of the internet’s 3 billion users are connecting to websites every day with mobile devices, websites that aren’t mobile-friendly are getting docked in the mobile results of the most popular search engine on Earth, and responsive design is the most elegant solution to not only pleasing your visitors, but maintain that coveted position in search rankings.

Google’s update was pretty shocking, but it might not be the end. Futureproof your website with a responsive design.

To find out if your website makes the cut, plop it into Google’s free mobile-friendliness tool. Learn more about Google’s update on their FAQ page.